The America Project
In 2001, the late poet Sekou Sundiata conceived The America Project as a shared contemplation of the United States' national identity, its power in the world, and its guiding mythologies. The project has encompassed a series of public engagement activities designed to build bridges between campuses and communities, artists and scholars, and educators and activists to engage the public in thinking critically about issues of citizenship. Prior to his passing in 2007, Sundiata led and participated in numerous poetry readings, community sings, "citizenship cabarets", poetry readings, interviews, potluck dinners, panels, and forums designed to spark ideas on critical citizenship, creativity, and civic dialogue. Elements of these public interactions fed directly into the creation of the poems and songs that comprised the 51st (dream) state, a multimedia music-theatre production that premiered in 2006. the 51st (dream) state toured to communities across the U.S. and in Australia through 2008. Civic dialogue provoked by the performances has become the ground on which new relationships between arts presenters, institutions, artists, and audiences have been built. Following Sundiata's death, The America Project Working Group was established as a national affiliation of artists, administrators, scholars, and activists who collaborated with the poet on The America Project. Recognizing the profound impact of his work, they formed this affiliation to both honor and continue the effort. The Working Group is dedicated to sustaining arts-based and artist-driven public explorations of engaged citizenship. Working Group members have spearheaded production of finding the 51st (dream) state: Sekou Sundiata's America Project , a film documenting the research-to-performance methodology Sekou adopted as he created performance work, as well as the creation and publication of A Teaching Method for Collaboration, Creativity, and Citizenship, a multi-media curriculum resource devised from Sundiata's teaching materials, writings, and speeches.